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The Ring Two

The valuable cinematic life lessons to be learned from watching The Ring Two are these: There's a world of difference between "spooky and obscure" and "tedious and muddled." And no matter how much soundtrack ambience you pile on, a farmers market in Astoria, Ore., just ain't scary — even with close-ups of hand-carved bears wearing hats. Gore Verbinski's The Ring (2002), a remake of Hideo Nakata's smash Japanese horror hit Ringu (1998), showed an assured hand, often re-creating the original shot for shot, but also adding a few touches that served to expand and enrich the story. The Ring Two — an American "remake" that attempts absolutely no parallels with its Japanese counterpart, Ringu 2 — is dull as dirt and often blatantly stupid. Naomi Watts returns as Rachel, the reporter who had a close encounter with the very dead, very damp little girl Samara and her cursed videotape in the first film. After hauling her creepy-as-hell kid (David Dorfman) to Oregon to start a new life, she discovers that the tape, much like the shark in Jaws: The Revenge, has somehow also transplanted itself geographically to taunt mom and kid once more. As with all sloppy horror films, secondary characters are pretty much marked for death as soon as they appear. Here, the biggest target is worn by Rachel's co-worker, the blandly handsome Max Rourke (Simon Baker), whose only role is to serve as Samara fodder. Along the way, dumb things happen for no purpose, such as the herd of unbelievably poorly rendered computer-generated deer that appear from the woods to attack Rachel's car — and then, well, stop and stare as she drives away. Ooh, scary. How terrifying you find The Ring Two will depend on how spooked you are by people slowly walking around and looking at things while mood music plays or, even more eerie, Rachel driving — including a five-minute car trip to the horse farm that was a full day and a ferry ride away in the first film. Sadly, it's even directed by Nakata, proving that the Law of Diminishing Sequels applies to J- horror, too. Yeesh.

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DreamWorks Home Video goes all-out on their DVD release of The Ring Two, starting with a stunningly good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with deep, gorgeous contrast, lovely color saturation, and great, eerie shadows. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English, with optional subtitles in English, Spanish, or French) is more than adequate, doing a good job with the allegedly scary sound effects. Extras are plentiful, starting with the short film, "Rings" (introduced by producer Walter Parkes and originally included on The Ring's special edition re-release), which does a nice job of setting up the beginning of the second film but is far smarter, better directed, and scarier than the featured attraction (16 min.). Also included are two behind-the-scenes featurettes, "Faces of Fear" (6 min.) and "Fear on Film" (6 min.), the first a pointless talking-head promo on the two Ring films and the second a slightly more interesting look at the special effects. Additional extras include "The Ring: The Power of Symbols" (5 min.) with writer Ehren Kruger and others discussing the imagery used in the films; "Samara: From Eye to Icon?" (6 min.) uses the same footage from the other featurettes to look at the costume and makeup work for Samara; a slightly longer "HBO First Look: Making of The Ring Two" featurette (13 min.) that is, once again, just a promo for the film; ten minutes of deleted scenes; and two theatrical trailers. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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